21 May 2007 - 13:21
  • News Code: 105178

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria: Hostage-takers have released a toddler, its nanny and a driver kidnapped four days ago in Nigeria"s oil-rich south, police said Sunday.

The three were released Saturday, Rivers state Police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu said, but could not give further details or information about their condition.

 

They had been snatched in a daytime raid on a house in an affluent suburb of the main southern oil city, Port Harcourt.

 

A friend of the child"s parents, who asked not to be named so the family"s identity would not become public, said the kidnappers wrongly believed they were seizing the child of an employee of American oil-services firm Wilbros.

 

The kidnappers first demanded a ransom of US$150,000 (€111,300), but lowered the price dramatically when they realized they had taken the wrong child, the friend said.

 

It was the first known case of a child being abducted in Nigeria, though kidnappings of foreign oil workers has become common in the Niger Delta region, where around 100 expatriate workers have been seized since the beginning of the year.

 

More than a dozen expatriates remain in captivity. Abductions of Nigerian workers is less common.

 

Most hostages are released unharmed after a ransom is paid. Some groups may make political demands instead, such as the diversion of more oil revenues to their region. Despite being Africa"s largest oil producer, Nigeria remains mired in poverty, with most people having no access to clean water or electricity.

 

The country is rated as one of the most corrupt in the world, and residents of the southern oil region accuse their leaders of stealing much of the money intended to provide social services.

 

PIN/IHT.COM

News Code 105178

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